Dell XPS 18 Portable All-in-One: Haswell Reloaded

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Design & Layout

Though some of the internal parts are new, the chassis and overall design of the XPS 18 Portable AIO is exactly the same, which is a good thing. Sure, an 18.4-inch display is a bit large for a tablet in and of itself, but it's sized just right to serve as a portable AIO, a category that is relatively new.

Dell XPS 18 Portable AIO Main

Is it a giant size tablet or a moderately sized all-in-one machine? Both! Dell includes a wireless keyboard and mouse, both of which are pretty basic, but are sufficient for daily use. If you happen to do a lot of typing on a daily basis, however, we'd suggest going with a higher end plank, even if it means giving up a USB port. Likewise, if you frequently play games or need pinpoint precision for, say, Photoshop, it would be worth upgrading the mouse as well.

As is, the system is ready to go. The optional stand that you see above not only adds a bit of height to the XPS 18 Portable, it also serves as a charging base -- there's a place underneath and around back to plug in the AC adapter, and when you stick the display into the stand, a white LED lights up on the front.

Speaking of the 18.4-inch display, it's still a Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) Inline Plane Switching (IPS) panel with 350 nits brightness, 16:9 aspect ratio, and 72 percent color gamut. You don't get any On-Screen Display (OSD) controls to tweak the picture quality, though out of the box, the screen looks fantastic, even when viewing from a sharp angle.

The display also boasts horizontal and vertical viewing angles rated at 89 degrees, and during our testing, the panel looked great from multiple angles. It didn't suffer from major degradation when standing off to the side, which is important since the XPS 18 is supposed to pull double-duty as a tabletop system.

 Dell XPS 18 Portable 18 Feet

Turning our attention to the backside reveals several characteristics, the first of which are a pair of flaps that fold out and serve as feet. Portability goes right out the window if you have to lug around the heavy metal base/docking station everywhere you go, so Dell designed the XPS 18 Portable to be able to stand on its own two feet, if you will. This comes in handy when going from room to room -- perhaps it sits in the dock placed in your home office all day, and at night, you bring it into the living room or bedroom to watch Netflix with your significant other. Or to the kitchen to follow that recipe on YouTube. Or to the garage as you reference a PDF on engine repair. Or...well, you get the point.

There are no ports on the back, which would be rendered useless the moment you lay the display flat. However, there are several cooling vents. Despite the upgraded horsepower in the late 2014 model reviewed here, we didn't notice any issues with heat (or noise, for that matter).

As for DIY repair, we wish Dell would make the panel easy to remove rather than using torx screws to hold everything together. At minimum, it'd be nice to have access to things like the RAM, SSD, and the built in battery, all of which can go bad over time. Perhaps that's a feature Dell will include in the 2015 refresh.

Dell XPS 18 Portable AIO

Though it may not look like much, you can knock a burglar out cold with the sturdy stand/dock that optionally ships with the XPS 18 Portable. It's solid metal, heavy, and rigid, offering a firm foundation for your system when using it. The stand also features a fair amount of tilt and can lay the display nearly flat if you want, which could be useful for tabletop computing apps. However, it isn't a real ergonomic stand in that it doesn't support height, swivel, or pivot adjustments.

Dell XPS 18 Portable AIO Ports

The XPS 18 Portable isn't overflowing with ports -- it has just two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, both of which are on the left side of the display. Sitting above is a headset jack, and directly below is the DC jack if you want to plug the power adapter directly into the AIO. A bit higher on the left side you'll find one of two speakers and a volume rocker. Over on the right side is the other speaker, along with the power button and a Kensington lock.

At full blast, the sound from the speakers is enough to fill a room and/or hurt your ears if you're sitting just a couple feet away. Quality is above average for integrated cans, albeit still tinny, and like most systems with built-in speakers we found the bass to be somewhat underwhelming.

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